Knitty: little purls of wisdom
beauty shot


This deeply textured and cozy cowl was designed to show off a handspun gradient yarn, flowing smoothly from one color to the next. It is framed by a lacy rib, which flows into a lace pattern which is left unblocked to accentuate the texture.

While I knit it with a 9-step gradient, it can be knit with any solid or semi-solid yarn; or gradient or self-striping yarn with long color changes.

It is a satisfying knit, and quick enough to grace the necks of all of your loved ones!

spacer model: Roswitha de Joode, Eduardo Lopez Cabello
spacer photos: Christopher Kale


Circumference: 25 inches
Depth: 11.25 inches


Meervilt merino top
spacer [Color 1] 544 Grasgroen; 30 grams
spacer [Color 2] 703 Ultramarijnblauw; 52 grams
spacer [Color 3] 543 Roodpaars; 40 grams

Finished Yarn:
spacer Wraps per inch: 11
spacer Ply: 3 (chain plied)
spacer Yardage used: 178 yards
spacer Drafting Method: Long draw over the fold. With this method of drafting, each fiber will enter the singles bent in half. When using wool or a similar fiber with memory, the fibers will have the tendency to expand outwards in the finished yarn. This will give a bit more loft and bounce to the yarn when spinning with a ‘worsted’ prep where the fibers have a parallel alignment. Just pull off about a staple length of the blended top, fold it over your index finger, and spin from the tip of your finger.


Spinning Tool: 32 gram top-whorl spindle made by the author

Commercial Yarn Alternative

spacer Freia Fibers Ombre Worsted [100% wool 127 yds/115m per 75g/2.64 oz balls]; 2 balls

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer 1 24-inch US #9/5.5mm circular needle

spacer yarn needle
spacer stitch markers


16 sts/20 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch
19 sts/24 rounds = 4 inches in main pattern unblocked


[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

color techniqueI blended the fibers for this cowl into two 5-step gradients which go from one color to another in 25 percent increments. To recreate this type of gradient with 2 colors of your choice, you will divide each color into four portions: 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% of your total amount of fiber (Ten parts of each color).

For a gradient that has more than 2 colors, the ‘middle’ color will be involved in 2 gradients, so you only need one stripe of the solid middle color. Instead of having 10 parts of each color, you will need 10 parts of the colors on the outsides and 16 parts of the middle color. In the case of the example here, I started with a green to blue gradient, and then added a blue to purple gradient, with one section of solid blue linking the two.

A drum carder will make this a quick and easy task. However, you can make similar blends on cards (or really just on one card) by doing the same layering with very wispy bits of each color (keeping the fibers aligned in the same direction) until the card is full, and then just peel it off the card. Repeat as needed – micromini-batts! You can also use a blending board, or just a flat surface upon which you build layers of fiber. Because you are using solid colored fibers, you are relying on optical blending to give the impression of a solid color. The more you blend the fibers, the more even your yarn will be.

I recommend taking the time to be fussy about keeping the fiber aligned as you blend it. You want the fiber to remain fairly parallel, and the colors to be mixed a bit at a time. Three passes on a drum carder should be enough to blend the colors well.

Instructions for the Long-Tail Cast On can be found here.

Directions for Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off can be found here.



Using a long tail or other stretchy method, CO 108 stitches.

Place marker and join in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Lower Edge
Lower Edge round 1: Work Chart 1 9 times around.
Work Chart 1 Rows 1-2 three times in total.

Round 1: Work Chart 2 9 times around.
Work Chart 2 Rows 1-8 six times in total.

Upper edge:
Round 1: Work Chart 3 9 times around.

Work Chart 2 Rows 1-2 three times in total, and work Row 1 once more.

Bind off in ribbing pattern using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off or the stretchy bind off of your choice.


Weave in ends. Steam lightly, if desired. Do not wet block the cowl in order to preserve the textured pattern.


designernamespacer Christopher Kale is a very busy professional singer and teacher based in Amsterdam. He spends much of his scarce free time spinning, teaching spinning, thinking about spinning and dreaming about spinning. His weapon of choice is one of his homemade suspended spindles. He knits with his handspun yarn in planes and trains; rehearsals and recording sessions. He can be found on Ravelry as CJAdam.

One day, he will win the lottery and fill a warehouse with fiber, food and cats.